Stainless steel is a popular material used for making pans as it’s durable, nonreactive and resistant to rust and scratches. On this page we’ll share some tips for choosing stainless steel pans as well as reviews of some of the best you can get in the UK in 2017.
The pros and cons of stainless steel pans
Stainless steel is generally regarded as one of the best materials for making pots and pans. However, there are some disadvantages to using stainless steel pans. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons.
- Rust and scratch-resistant
- Dishwasher safe
- Durable and last a long time
- Relatively ineffective at conducting heat
- Poor heat distribution
- Food can stick
What to consider when choosing stainless steel cookware
Like most products, there is some special terminology you need to understand when choosing stainless steel pans.
Stainless steel grades
Stainless steel pans aren’t made from 100% stainless steel, but rather contain a mixture of metals, in particular chromium and nickel. They are graded with two numbers, the first of which refers to the percentage of chromium and the second of which refers to the percentage of nickel. The three most common grades are 18/10, 18/8 and 18/0.
- 18/10 stainless steel contains 18% chromium and 10% nickel. This is one of the most popular grades of stainless steel used in pans. It’s more expensive than other grades, but has a better shine and is more rust-resistant.
- 18/8 stainless steel contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It’s cheaper than 18/10 stainless steel but has some of the same benefits.
- 18/0 stainless steel contains 18% chromium and 0% nickel. It’s the cheapest type of stainless steel but isn’t as durable as the other types.
Are stainless steel pans suitable for all hob types?
18/10 grade stainless steel pans can be used on any hob type. Most stainless steel pans these days are induction compatible, but you should check this before buying as there are some exceptions.
How much do stainless steel pans cost?
Stainless steel pans tend to be more expensive than aluminium pans but not as expensive as copper pans. The price varies a lot depending on the brand and size of the pan. The cheapest stainless steel pans cost less than £10, while the most expensive from brands such as Le Creuset can cost over £100.
Best Stainless Steel Saucepans in the UK
Le Creuset 3-Ply Stainless Steel Saucepan Set
Reasons to buy: High quality, durable, look great
Reasons not to buy: Expensive
Le Creuset is one of the most highly regarded cookware brands, so it’s not surprising that they make some of the highest quality stainless steel saucepans on the market. This 3-piece set is a good choice if you’re looking for something pans that will last for years and don’t mind investing a bit of money in them. These pans aren’t cheap, but they are very well made.
The pan diameters are 20 cm, 18 cm and 16 cm, and you can stack them on top of each other to save storage space. Buying a set like this rather than a single pan gives you the ability to cook bigger and complex meals and choose the right pan size for each job. Each pan has a metal lid which fits well, but doesn’t let you see what’s going on like a glass lid would.
The pans are designed with three layers; there is one layer of aluminium between two layers of stainless steel. This helps to make sure heat is spread out uniformly. This design feature helps overcome one of the common issues with stainless steel pans which is that the heat can be uneven, causing overheating in some parts of the pan.
These pans can be used on every kind of hob, including induction hobs. They’re also dishwasher safe and can be used in the oven up to 260°C. These Le Creuset pans are built to last and come with a lifetime guarantee.
Morphy Richards Equip 3 Piece Pan Set
Reasons to buy: Value for money, glass lids
Reasons not to buy: Not especially high quality, food can stick
This 3-piece set from Morphy Richards offers a cheaper alternative to the Le Creuset pans reviewed above. Unsurprisingly, they’re not as high quality as the Le Creuset pans, but they offer good value for money overall.
These pans have a very functional design. They have glass lids so you can keep an eye on what you’re cooking. They also have useful pouring spouts, and the handles and lid knobs stay cool so you don’t need to use oven gloves.
Like with the Le Creuset set reviewed above, the pan diameters are 20 cm, 18 cm and 16 cm.
These pans use Thermocore technology to help keep heat evenly distributed. This makes them more efficient and prevents hot spots, which can be an issue with other stainless steel pans.
These pans are suitable for all hob types including induction hobs. They’re also dishwasher safe.
Best Stainless Steel Frying Pans in the UK
Tefal Intuition Frying Pan
Reasons to buy: Easy to clean, good heat distribution
Reasons not to buy: Non-stick coating can be bad for health
This frying pan from Tefal is made from 18/10 stainless steel, which is one of the most durable kinds of stainless steel. Like most Tefal pans it has Thermo-Spot technology integrated into coating of the pan. The Thermo-Spot is a pattern on the pan which turns red when the pan has heated up fully, so you know when to start cooking.
As you’d expect from Tefal, this frying pan has a non-stick design. It’s also dishwasher safe and can be put in the oven at a temperature of 260°C or less for up to an hour.
The main part of the pan comes with a 10-year guarantee, while the non-stick coating has a lifetime guarantee against peeling and blistering.
To summarise, this is a great non-stick stainless steel frying pan that is easy to clean and should last a long time.
Le Creuset 3-Ply Stainless Steel Uncoated Frying Pan
Reasons to buy: Very high quality, durable
Reasons not to buy: Expensive
If you have a bit more money to spare, you might want to consider this 3-ply stainless steel frying pan from Le Creuset. Like the pans in the Le Creuset set reviewed above, this frying pan is designed with three layers of metal which helps distribute heat more evenly.
This pan is suitable for all hob types including induction hobs, and can also be put in the oven at temperatures up to 220 °C.
This pan is quite expensive, but it should last a lifetime. It looks amazing and doesn’t present the same health risks as non-stick pans do.